The common wisdom is that retirement is pretty much a period of doom-and-gloom, thanks to worries over money, and that retirees are selling their homes to downsize and save a buck. But a new survey from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave has come up with some findings that don’t quite fit those stereotypes. Not in the least.

1. Freedom to choose

You might think older people are pretty much constrained by family obligations or health concerns to live in certain areas, but they’d beg to differ with you. In fact, the percentage of retirees saying that they are now free to live pretty much anywhere they want to increases steadily as they age. In fact, they’re twice as likely to say so as people who aren’t retired and who are still tied to the twin obligations of workplace location and family needs. 

For those aged about 52, 30 percent say they’re free as a bird, but there’s a really steep increase from that point onward. By the time they’re 61, 56 percent say they can live anywhere; the upward trend continues until they hit about age 72. 

2. Relief from home-related financial concerns

It’s probably no surprise, after all the real estate upheavals and bubbles over the last several years, that more older people own homes than younger people. In fact, four out of five of those 65+ do. But what may be unexpected is that 72 percent of those 65 and older have paid off their mortgages, freeing them from that monthly payment. That goes a long way toward making retirement more carefree.

3. They love where they are

Not only do 65 percent of retirees say that they’re living in the best home of their lives, they’re also happier than non-retirees with other things about where they live. Seventy-nine percent say their homes are comfortable; 75 percent say they’re in a safe community; 62 percent say that home is a good place to handle family visits and 48 percent are even happy with the weather. 

4. Memories count more than money 

Yes, many are so attached to their homes and the memories that they made there that they’d abandon the chance to fly south (or west, or some other compass point) to be able to live within the walls that sheltered them earlier in life. In fact, among those who are staying put, 54 percent said “I love my home” was the top reason. 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account?



Join BenefitsPRO

Don’t miss crucial news and insights you need to navigate the shifting employee benefits industry. Join now!

  • Unlimited access to - your roadmap to thriving in a disrupted environment
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and
  • Exclusive discounts on and ALM events.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join BenefitsPRO

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.